• Friday, Jan. 7, 2022
CES gadget show turnout falls more than 75% due to COVID
People walk across an empty booth spot during the CES tech show Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Joe Buglewicz)

Attendance at this week's CES gadget show in Las Vegas fell more than 75% compared to its previous in-person event two years ago, its organizer said Friday.

The Consumer Technology Association said on the show's closing day that more than 40,000 people attended the multi-day event on the Las Vegas Strip. That's less than a quarter of the more than 170,000 the CTA said were there for its 2020 convention.

The COVID-19 pandemic led the CTA to take 2021's conference online, but the trade group decided eight months ago to bring a physical CES 2022 back to Vegas. That proved challenging amid a global spike in infections caused by the fast-moving omicron coronavirus variant that emerged late last year.

Conference attendees were required to wear masks on the exhibition floors that opened Wednesday and show proof of vaccination before they arrived. But the rise in COVID-19 cases led a number of big tech companies to pull out of the conference in the weeks before the event.

  • Monday, Jan. 3, 2022
New hi-tech photo brings Rembrandt's "Night Watch" up close
A microscopic image enlarging a 4x6 millimeter part of the painting on Rembrandt's Night Watch, which will be restored next year in the public eye, is seen on a screen next to the painting at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Rembrandt van Rijn's iconic and huge painting "The Night Watch" is now also a supersized museum photo delivered right to your laptop in unsurpassed detail. The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum on Monday Jan. 3, 2022, put on its digital portal what it called "the most detailed photograph of any artwork" ready for assessment by scientists and art lovers alike. It is expected to draw widespread interest especially since the museum is closed because of coronavirus measures.(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Rembrandt van Rijn's iconic and huge painting "The Night Watch" is now also a supersized  museum photo  delivered right to your laptop in unsurpassed detail. 

The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum on Monday put on its digital portal what it called "the most detailed photograph of any artwork" ready for assessment by scientists and art lovers alike. It is expected to draw widespread interest especially since the museum is closed because of coronavirus measures. 

The 717-gigapixel photo allows viewers to zoom in on Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and see how the 17th-century master put the tiniest of white dots in his eyes to give life to the painting's main character. It also shows the minute cracks in his pupils, brought on by the passage of time. 

The real canvas measures 379.5 x 453.5 centimeters (149.4 x178.5 inches) canvas and each pixel represents 5 micrometers or 0.005 square millimeters. 

Apart from simply showing the dazzling detail, it will also help researchers restore the work and assess its aging process over time. 

The Night Watch will be removed from its wooden stretcher  in two weeks and placed on a new one to remove rippling that was caused when the world famous painting was housed in a temporary gallery while the Rijksmuseum underwent major renovations from 2003-2013.

The oil-on-canvas painting depicts a group of Amsterdam civil militia and shows off Rembrandt's renowned use of light and composition to create a dynamic scene filled with characters.

The painting has undergone many restorations over its existence. It was placed on its present wooden stretcher in 1975. Once the painting has been re-stretched, the museum will decide whether further restoration work is needed. 

  • Friday, Dec. 31, 2021
CES gadget show shortened to 3 days; some big tech notables stay away
Crowds enter the convention center on the first day of the CES tech show, on,Jan. 7, 2020, in Las Vegas. The annual CES gadget convention will be three days instead of four following an uptick of COVID-19 cases and the withdrawal of some of its best-known tech presenters. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The annual CES gadget convention will be three days instead of four following an uptick of COVID-19 cases and the withdrawal of some of its best-known tech presenters.

Convention organizer The Consumer Technology Association announced in a statement Friday that CES will run from Jan. 5-7, one day shorter than planned. The event still has over 2,200 exhibitors confirmed to show off their products at the Las Vegas convention, spokeswoman Jeanne Abella said.

The announcement follows the withdrawal of tech giants from CES last week citing health risks of the omicron variant, including cellphone carriers like T-Mobile, whose CEO had been slated to deliver a keynote speech. Computer maker Lenovo and social media companies like Twitter and Facebook parent company Meta also canceled plans to attend. News outlets including CNN said they would cancel or reduce coverage.

CES was held entirely virtually last year. It will be a hybrid of online and in-person this year, with organizers offering digital registration allowing access to around 40 livestreamed events, Abella said.

On the convention floor, attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks. Organizers are asking participants to get COVID-19 tests before they arrive, but negative results are not required.

Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021
Blackmagic Camera 7.7 update unveiled
Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

The Blackmagic Camera 7.7 update--which further enhances sensor performance for the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K--has been unveiled. 

The update from Blackmagic Design optimizes the 12K sensor by further improving the clarity of fine detail in shadow regions. It also provides a more neutral color balance with a more accurate starting point for better skin tones, while still retaining the natural soft highlight rolloff of film which customers enjoy from URSA Mini Pro 12K. In addition, the incidence of moire has been reduced when capturing ultra high resolution scenes with very high frequency fabrics or architectural textures.

“The images have that creamy but detailed film look that is so pleasant and also reach well into the highlights and shadows. There are no artifacts which is really important for my work,” said Christian Sebaldt, ASC, in testing a beta of the update. “And skin tones always look natural and, to me, these are features of a $40,000 camera.”

Cinematographer Vance Burberry extensively beta tested the new update on live productions. “After shooting three projects with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the new update makes the image cleaner in the shadows,” said Burberry. “Usually, I’d never try to pull up the shadows, but when I did, there was less noise and at normal exposure, the shadows stayed very clean. There is something special about the URSA Mini Pro 12K’s sensor. It has this incredible resolution but at the same time, has a delicateness to it that really reminds me of film.”

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is billed as a revolution in digital film with a 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor and 14 stops of dynamic range, built into the award winning URSA Mini body. The combination of 80 megapixels per frame, new color science and the flexibility of Blackmagic RAW makes working with 12K a reality. Oversampling from 12K provides 8K and 4K images with the subtle skin tones and extraordinary detail of high end still cameras. Users can shoot at 60 fps in 12K, 120 fps in 8K and up to 240 fps in 4K Super 16. URSA Mini Pro 12K features an interchangeable PL mount, as well as built in ND filters, dual CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port and more. DaVinci Resolve Studio is included for creative control through post from editing to color, VFX and more.

URSA Mini Pro 12K’s extreme resolution affords customers the benefits of shooting with film including incredible detail, wide dynamic range and rich, deep color. The camera can be deployed for feature films, episodic television and immersive, large format IMAX. The definition around objects makes it ideal for working with green screen and VFX including compositing live action and CGI.

“Cinematographers love the incredible look of the 12K sensor and generation 5 color science of the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “The new Blackmagic Camera 7.7 software update gets even more out of the incredible sensor without losing that special look that our customers love. We’re excited to be making this great camera even better whether our customers are using it on high end feature films, music videos, indie projects or even VFX work!”

Blackmagic Camera 7.7 update is now available as a free download from the Blackmagic Design website. Update features include:

  • Improved color balance.
  • Improved demosaic for better shadow detail MTF.
  • Improved demosaic to reduce moire effects on fine patterns.
  • USB-C connection improvements.
  • Improved compatibility with ExAscend U.2 disks on URSA Mini Recorder.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021
Nuke 13.1 released to streamline artists' workflows 
Nuke 13.1

Foundry, developer of creative software for the media and entertainment industries, has released Nuke 13.1. This artist-focused update introduces a suite of user experience and workflow improvements designed to enhance artist productivity and accelerate the creative process for both artists and teams.  

Nuke 13.1 continues the improvements to Nuke’s 3D system started in Nuke 13.0 with the Hydra Viewer. This release includes new 3D manipulators, new 3D hotkeys and other improvements which make it more enjoyable and faster for artists to work in Nuke’s 3D system. The node graph has a few new interactions as well, along with extensions to Cryptomatte. The Nuke Studio and Hiero Timeline also received several updates including an improved ability to copy soft effects from the Timeline and paste them into the Nuke script.

This new release also includes some significant steps toward streaming artists’ workflows through reducing friction between Nuke and other tools in the pipeline. The new Unreal Reader makes it easy for artists to request the data they need from Unreal from within NukeX, enabling users to combine the speed and efficiency of real-time rendering with the flexibility and fine-grained control available in the composite. Whether Unreal Engine is being used alongside Nuke for previs, virtual production, or final pixel rendering of VFX and animation, Nuke’s Unreal Reader ensures that artists can work quickly and efficiently, bringing the power of NukeX to their real-time projects. 

The machine learning toolset also receives an upgrade, with new support for third-party PyTorch models in the Inference, so artists can use a wide range of image-to-image PyTorch networks and package them into tools to share with their team. 

Nuke Studio and Hiero continue to focus on review and collaboration with Annotations extended to work over Monitor Out and enhanced Timeline Metadata support ensures that data flows from Production right through to final delivery.

Additionally Nuke 13.1’s support for OCIOv2 and Blackmagic RAW, as well as the upcoming  Nuke-Katana interoperability in Katana 5.0, make it easier to work with greater consistency across the pipeline. 

Juan Salazar, sr. product manager, Timeline and Story, Foundry, commented, “Our goal is to have our tools provide greater consistency across the different stages of production and make it easier for artists to work in the Nuke ecosystem, whether this means easier working in 3D or helping them connect other tools to Nuke so that they can see their work in context and accelerate their workflows. The timeline improvements in Nuke 13.1 help artists streamline their review sessions and Metadata support ensures data flows through to final delivery.”

  • Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021
DaVinci Resolve Studio makes the grade for "The Green Knight"
A scene from "The Green Knight" (photo courtesy of A24)
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

A24’s The Green Knight was graded with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio at FotoKem by colorist Alastor Arnold. The film was lensed by cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo.

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald skinned stranger and tester of men.

Palermo, a longtime collaborator with FotoKem and Arnold, was happy to team up once again. “I believe this is our fourth feature film together, plus we’ve done a number of commercials and shorts, so we have a shorthand which is valuable in regard to color and taste,” said Palermo.

In creating the look, Palermo and director David Lowery worked closely with Arnold before shooting, using only test footage and their own creativity. “I shot some footage and I took that back to the color bay to build our show LUT. I prefer to shoot with one look only, and if all works well, this will be the same LUT we start with in postproduction, which was the case for The Green Knight.”

The LUT needed to be carefully crafted because Palermo knew the cinematography would be very demanding. “We aimed to make this LUT handle under exposure while still maintaining some color contrast, as well as being able to be stretched to far out places either with CDLs or with on camera color filters. I knew I was going to go pretty psychedelic with colors at times.”

Arnold explained, “Andrew and I sat with David in the DI theater and came up with a look together, organically. Andrew guided me as to what he was going for in terms of tone curve, color bias, etc, and we fine tuned until everybody was happy. It’s a very dark, bold looking film, and I consider it some of my best work as a colorist.”

  • Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021
Academy's Science and Tech Council adds Pierce, Serkis, White
Andy Serkis

David Pierce, Andy Serkis and Jeffrey White have accepted invitations to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, bringing the Council’s 2021–2022 membership roster to 25.

Pierce is an archivist and film historian.  As assistant chief and chief operations officer of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center at the Library of Congress, Pierce is responsible for the acquisition, conservation, documentation and digitization of the world’s largest public archives of motion pictures, television, radio and recorded sound.  He is the author of "The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929" and co-author, with James Layton, of "The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935" and "King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue."  He founded the Media History Digital Library, and his articles have appeared in American Film, Film Comment, American Cinematographer and more.  Pierce has been an Academy Member-at-Large since 2019.

Serkis is an award-winning actor known for his performance capture roles in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “King Kong,” the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and more.  His feature film directing credits include “Breathe,” “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”  Serkis is the co-founder, alongside producer Jonathan Cavendish, of The Imaginarium, a multi-platform production company linked to a performance capture studio and focused on next-generation storytelling.  Serkis will next appear on screen in “The Batman,” portraying Alfred Pennyworth.  He has been a member of the Academy’s Actors Branch since 2012.

White is a feature and television producer specializing in independent film and visual effects.  Currently an executive producer consulting with Drafthouse Films, he has worked in the feature production department of Warner Bros. and held roles as vice president of production and producer for Winkler/Daniel Productions at Paramount Pictures, as well as president and executive producer at Pellerin Multimedia, Inc. which produced “King Kong: Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries” for Universal Pictures.  White has produced independent features including “Manhood” and “Tale of the Mummy” and was a visual effects producer for “Sideways,” “Elizabethtown,” “Collateral Damage,” “Holes” and more.  He has been a member of the Academy’s Producers Branch since 1982.

The Council co-chairs for 2021–2022 are Visual Effects Branch governor Craig Barron and member-at-large Annie Chang.

The Council’s 20 other returning members are Bill Baggelaar, Linda Borgeson, Visual Effects Branch governor Brooke Breton, Lois Burwell, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch governor Bill Corso, Sound Branch governor Teri E. Dorman, Theo Gluck, Buzz Hays, Greg Hedgepath, Leslie Iwerks, Andrea Kalas, Colette Mullenhoff, Ujwal Nirgudkar, Helena Packer, Arjun Ramamurthy, Rachel Rose, Dave Schnuelle, Leon Silverman, Jeffrey E. Taylor and Amy Vincent.

Established in 2003 by the Academy’s Board of Governors, the Science and Technology Council provides a forum for the exchange of information, promotes cooperation among diverse technological interests within the industry, sponsors publications, fosters educational activities and preserves the history of the science and technology of motion pictures.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021
IBC cancels Amsterdam event as COVID cases surge
Commuters and tourists, some wearing face masks, take a free ferry across IJ river to Amsterdam North, Netherlands, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The Dutch government announced Tuesday Nov. 23, 2021, that it is making social distancing mandatory again for all adults Wednesday after coronavirus infection numbers hit a new weekly record Tuesday, climbing 39% while hospital and intensive care unit admissions also rose sharply. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

IBC has announced that the in person IBC2021 broadcast technology event has been canceled. The move follows growing concerns about the COVID-19 situation in The Netherlands, which has deteriorated over the past week, and feedback from the IBC exhibitor and visitor community-

The IBC Partnership Board made the decision today (11/23) in order to prevent exhibitors and visitors from traveling to The Netherlands.

Due to take place on December 3-6 at The RAI in Amsterdam, IBC20201 will now focus on bringing the content and technology community together online.

Dutch coronavirus infection numbers reached a new weekly record today, climbing 39% while hospital and intensive care unit admissions also rose sharply, prompting the government to make social distancing mandatory again for all adults.

The latest report by the country’s public health institute on a surge in COVID-19 cases came a day after the Dutch government introduced legislation that would clear the way to restrict access for unvaccinated people to indoor venues such as bars, restaurants and museums if infections keep rising.

The legislation would limit the country’s COVID-19 pass system to people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from a coronavirus infection. People could no longer get the health pass with negative tests. The bill is expected to be debated by lawmakers next week.

--additional reporting by AP writer Mike Corder

  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021
Amazon-sponsored artwork that "learns" debuts at Smithsonian
This Oct. 27, 2021, photo shows, from left, artist Suchi Reddy and Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of Amazon Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services, in front of the interactive artwork "me + you" in Washington, D.C. The sculpture uses machine learning to interpret viewers' expressions about the future and incorporate them into the artwork. It is a featured piece of art in the exhibit Futures, which will welcome visitors to the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building for the first time in 20 years when the exhibition opens. (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

The artificial intelligence at the heart of a new art exhibit, "me + you," does not judge you necessarily, but it does analyze and interpret what you have to say.

Sponsored by Amazon Web Services, the sculpture by artist Suchi Reddy listens to what you have to say about the future and renders your sentiment in a display of colored lights and patterns.

The artwork is a centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, which is opening to the public for the first time in 20 years. The exhibition, called Futures, opens Nov. 20.

Viewers are invited to interact with the sculpture, which listens for the words "My future is ..." at several circular listening posts integrated into the sculpture.

The words and the sentiments behind them are then reinterpreted as a pattern of colored lights. On a very basic level, positive emotions tend to translate into soothing blends of blue, green and purple. Words that suggest anger might prompt a cascade of colors on the opposite spectrum of the color wheel. If you use a swear word, the lights will turn red.

No matter the sentiment, Reddy said, "I want to show all human emotion as beautiful."

And the interpretations will evolve and become more nuanced over time as the artificial intelligence progresses. Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services, said the artwork incorporates sentiment analysis that not only decodes the meaning of words but a speaker's sentiment behind the words.

Sivasubramanian said Amazon contributed 1,200 hours of programming to serve as the backbone of the artwork's machine learning.

"Machine learning is one of our most transformative technologies," he said. "I'm excited for people to engage with machine learning in an artistic setting."

The artwork utilizes various aspects of machine learning, including basic speech-to-text technology.

A companion website lets people enter their thoughts over the internet and receive a visual interpretation of their sentiment that is also added to the archive.

In an era of deep skepticism over the data collected by Big Tech, Reddy and her team were careful to avoid data collection of any kind other than people's thoughts about the future. No video is recorded and there is nothing that tracks people's expressions back to them, Reddy said.

Other highlights in the exhibition include costumes from the Marvel Studios film "Eternals," part of an interactive exhibit that shows how movies help us imagine our future, and objects including an experimental Alexander Graham Bell telephone and the first full-scale Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome built in North America.

"In a world that feels perpetually tumultuous, there is power in envisioning the future we want, not the future we fear," said Rachel Goslins, director of the Arts and Industries Building.

The exhibition is scheduled to remain open through July 6. Eventually, the "me + you" sculpture will be relocated to Amazon's new HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021
Adorama Rental Company hires Mike Nichols as VP of sales & marketing
Mike Nichols

Adorama Rental Company (ARC), an equipment rental house for high-end digital cinematography, has brought Mike Nichols aboard as VP of sales and marketing. Nichols will be responsible for building a five-year strategy with a focus on growth and expansion of the company. He will identify new areas of revenue which look beyond the transactional rental business as well as develop services for ARC’s high-end digital cinema market with a customer service mindset.

Nichols comes to Adorama Rental Co. with 13 years of experience managing rental company AbelCine, and has feature film and television credits spanning 27 years. Prior to managing AbelCine, he worked for Zooma Zooma, a boutique commercial production company co-founded by director Sam Raimi and executive producer Joseph Mantegna. 

Glenn Kornfeld, president of Adorama Rental Company, said, “Coming out of the pandemic, ARC will be focusing on expanding our high-end optics inventory as well as servicing the wider high-end digital cinema market. Mike’s passion, vast technical knowledge and acute business acumen will be integral in this shift of focus and building ARC into the national rental house we aspire to be.”

Nichols shared, “In addition to helping reshape the ARC brand, I hope to find new and exciting opportunities between Adorama’s family of Business Units, such as Adorama, SunnySports, Scuba.com, and Printique.”

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